Delta Air Lines CEO Ed Bastian

Summary List Placement

It started with a presidential election.

Georgia quickly found itself in the crosshairs of then-President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the 2020 election. Joe Biden narrowly won the state and its 16 electoral votes, helping bolster his progressive mandate, but Trump did not let the state go to Biden without a fight.

The Peach State quickly became an epicenter for baseless claims of election fraud in the hopes of overturning the outcome. In response, Georgia began overhauling its election system and its legislature crafted SB202, a controversial election reform bill.

Delta Air Lines, as Atlanta’s hometown airline and one of the largest companies in the state, took an interest in the bill and said it worked with the government to bar its “most egregious measures.” After its passage, Delta CEO Ed Bastian commented favorably on aspects of the legislation and lauded the efforts of Atlanta’s business community in shaping its outcome. 

“The legislation signed this week improved considerably during the legislative process, and expands weekend voting, codifies Sunday voting and protects a voter’s ability to cast an absentee ballot without providing a reason,” Bastian said in a March 26 memo. 

Gov. Brian Kemp signed the bill into law on March 25 and immediately drew the ire of progressive activists. President Biden derided the bill as “Jim Crow in the 21st century” and multiple civil rights organizations have already filed federal lawsuits in opposition.

Delta’s response immediately sparked controversy as the airline was seen as supportive of the bill that included what opponents call voter suppression methods. Among others, the law requires a voter to present identification to vote absentee and the window for requesting an absentee ballot is shortened, as Insider’s Grace Panetta reported.

Bastian’s statement stunned industry observers that had been closely following Delta’s great strides in the area of diversity, equity, and inclusion over the years.

“Even before the George Floyd incident, Delta had been talking about the need to hire, mentor, provide professional development opportunities, and promote women and people of color and other groups who were underrepresented in Delta’s leadership,” Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and co-founder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider. 

Bastian, in response to the backlash, took a stronger position against the bill in a Wednesday memo.

“However, I need to make it crystal clear that the final bill is unacceptable and does not match Delta’s values,” Bastian clarified.

“The entire rationale for this bill …read more

Source:: Business Insider

      

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Delta spent the pandemic earning goodwill from passengers and workers. It might be about to vanish.

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